Changing the Mind

By Martha Burgess Novak

We, as adults, sometimes have a hard time changing our minds. We dither over anything from whether to keep the shoes we’ve bought to whether or not we should stay in our partnerships. Other people dogmatically refuse to change their minds because they have learned from parents long ago that this is substandard and will make them some sort of degenerate “quitter.”

This week a young mother asked me a common type of question. “My daughter has been in ballet for two years and now she wants to quit. Should I let her quit or should I make her stick with it?” This young mother has had a hard time changing her own mind and stayed in an unsatisfactory marriage for far too long. Her question implies that she was looking for an absolute, such as: “In good parenting, you always do it this way.”

But there is no such absolute to impose upon the child. The parent is not addressing the real issue here which is, “Does the child have a good and legitimate reason to want to quit?”

Certainly, it is a parent’s responsibility to help a child see they can work through a problem. But this point is moot when there is a more pressing concern.

I remember when I took piano. My uncle was a concert pianist and I idolized him, wanted to please him. But my teacher was bored with me and I was bored with myself. I am a small woman. I have small hands. I don’t have the long slender fingers of a pianist. I’m also not as physically strong as a pianist needs to be and I learned early that I didn’t want to play music, I wanted to sing. I wanted to act on the stage. These were much better disciplines for my disposition and body type.

Luckily, my mother was aware enough to release me from those lessons and I went right into the theatre as a child actor. She knew that we must not keep kids locked into positions where they fail.

As adults, we were all reared in situations like I’m describing. They seem like little childhood incidents but they are far more. How our parents held us to task or let us get away with things influences our ability to change our minds to this day. Absolutes of any kind, ladies and gentlemen, keep you in the “shallow end of the pool.”

We must learn to train ourselves now to a deeper experience, asking the question our parents never asked us: “Why? Why do I feel this way?”

The permission to change your mind is there in your answer.

Martha Burgess Novak is a spiritual teacher, author, lecturer, and peak performance trainer who works with individuals and corporations. Listen to her radio show on Blog Talk Radio and Facebook Live at 10AM EST every Sunday morning. Both can be accessed through her website at